In remembering my conversion to Christ as well as the means responsible for reconciliation to God, I cannot say enough about the glory of God represented in nature. I was a child and thought as a child. I looked at the world through the eyes of a young boy fascinated by the world around him. This still holds true today, although the young boy has grown into a young man.
This towering tree, that lush, green meadow, this mysterious wood or plentiful grove of trees whereby each creature in its proper office surrenders its will to a sovereign and beneficent Creator still touches my heart and serves as a reminder that to surrender my will is the ultimate act of worship. I am convinced, today more than ever, that all manner of life- both plant as well as animal- are completely infused with the memory of His Spirit and the creativity of His mind.
In some ways it is difficult for me to separate God from that which He has created. The glory of the Lord Christ is seen most fully in the person who lives for Him, but resonates deeply in nature, for “without him nothing was made that has been made” (1 John 1:2). Nature remembers who made her.
Certainly in this day and age, as we do see the result of mankind’s wrath upon the earth, it is a cause for contemplation. Does God cry, weep or mourn over the way we have treated what He pronounced as good? I do not think He does. No, the more I consider it, the more I conclude that the earth was created only as a context through which a free being could ultimately come to know Him. He does not weep for the earth, for this would seem to contradict the idea that His spirit is grieved by the unrepentant heart (Eph. 4:29). If He was grieved by both, we would forever be unsure of which, in His eyes, is valued more. In spite of the assurance of the Lord Christ found in the gospel of Matthew, that we are “worth more than many sparrows,” (Matt. 10:31) the lack of confidence man has in Almighty God results in so many like David, crying out “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:2)
If His gaze ever did wander over the mistakes of humanity to see the havoc those great errors have beset on every side against the earth, not a single tear would fall until that same gaze beheld mankind itself- lost and without relationship with Him. If mankind treats the earth unspeakably, how much more unspeakable are those acts committed by man against his fellow men?
Before I knew the Lord Christ internally, I was aware of His presence externally. For me, “his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). I could not ignore it. At times I have wondered if this external knowledge is an immediate prerequisite to relationship. Is it the hammer that strikes the iron to forge the implement? My experience indicates that this certainly can happen. I did not experience some low of life where I sought after God as the answer to existential or philosophical dilemmas. I merely looked at creation and decided that whatever or whoever made it- that is Who I wish to follow.
We must remember also that, although “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1), it does not “belong” to Him. That is to say He turned over ownership to both devil and man. God created it. He infused it with life of all kinds, then gave up rightful dominion over it. Where, though, does the distinction lie? What on the earth truly does man hold dominion over and what on the earth does Satan rule over?
Is it possible that man’s dominion excludes man while Satan’s dominion includes man? Certainly Satan can use both man and earth but they are always used by him to increase destruction and reinforce man’s alienation from God. I do not think it is too much to say that Satan has never been involved in an act of creation. Obviously he has not the power to create ex-nihilo but is there another method by means of which he expedites his dastardly will? Just like man, Satan cannot create anything without something already being there. Just like man, he takes good things and uses them wrongly to reinforce worship of self. Satan definitely has power- unfathomable power- but it is not infinite. That which is unfathomable to us is a mere pittance in the shadow of Almighty God.
When I speak of the glory of God being represented in nature, I do not mean some kind of pantheism where He occupies each and every thing. This is a concept which reduces God to a factor no greater than creation itself and He is quite clearly much greater. I do not imply that God created it, but now possesses it, much like a house builder who constructs the dwelling and forgets to leave a door by which he may exit. If God really, truly, was in His creation, it would beg questions of incompetence and absentmindedness. Our God is not contained in the trees, hills or rocks, for these are the very things that cry out and speak of His glory. Our God does not sing songs to Himself- creation does. It is not forced to do this. It does this because it is glad God created it. I do it because I am glad God created me.
I sincerely believe God has left his undeniable signature on the world He created. It would of course be something of an oversight to think that if a human artist signs his masterpiece, how much grander is the signature of the ultimate Artist?
The real question is, what constitutes the signature of God? Has he left any mark indelible- either in nature or in mankind? The answer is yes in both cases. Concerning nature- whatever of nature’s beauty incites within you the impression of grandeur and an exhilarating sense of majesty- that for you is evidence of God’s handiwork.
In mankind however, the signature is much more significant. Nature may possess something of the memory of God. Mankind was bestowed with His very presence. In the person of Christ, God became both part and parcel of mankind. By birth He entered, by death He exited and by resurrection He conquered. Nothing now is left to overcome, for His is a signature at which “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).